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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Belarus and Russian presidents discuss union

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, goes to Russia today for talks with President Putin on implementing the union treaty signed between the two countries in January. Before leaving for the Black Sea resort of Sochi where President Putin is taking a brief holiday, Mr Lukashenko said economic issues such as foreign trade and the creation of a free economic zone would head the talks.

Mr Lukashenko said he didn't believe relations with Russia had stagnated recently, saying there had been both successes and failures in practical efforts to realise the union.

Correspondents say unifying Russia and Belarus is proving to be difficult because of differences in the two economies and their legal structures.

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